“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” is not very incredible, but thanks to ample comedic talent, it’s nicely executed.
Though Steve Carell, who stars as Burt Wonderstone, performs with his natural comedic style it is Jim Carrey who steals the spotlight with the return of his physical, almost cartoon-like comedic performance resonant of the Jim Carrey from the ’90s.
The film also stars Steve Buscemi, who took a break from his recent dramatic act of “Boardwalk Empire,” and Olivia Wilde, who plays a quirky aspiring magician.
This is the first film directed by TV veteran Don Scardino (30 Rock, Law & Order), who executed his vision with average style.
The movie begins with a young Burt and Anton forming a bond over suppressing the torment of class bullies with the new discovery of performing magic tricks. The film continues to follow the increasingly successful duo decades later to find their relationship is in tatters.
Burt has become an egocentric, out-of-touch alcoholic and womanizer, yet Anton (Buscemi) has remained the same man throughout the film, but has become increasingly fed up with Burt’s new persona.
Though their show is successful, the redundant routine is challenged by the emergent popularity of a new street magician, Steve Gray (Carrey) who hosts a show called “Brain Rapist.” Gray performs over the top, provocative, cringe-worthy stunts such as cutting a card out of his face, retaining his urine for 12 days straight, spending the night on a bed of hot coals and hammering nails into boards with his head.
Anton and Burt’s relationship comes to a head after performing a daring new stunt to try to compete with Steve Gray. Anton quits to pursue a new life of charity work in Cambodia, while Burt is left to do their duo act alone.
Burt’s single act fizzles and he loses everything. He is forced to move in with his former assistant, Jane (Wilde) who is an aspiring magician but is mocked by Burt because she is a woman.
Reaching an all-time low, Burt is forced into the only performing job he can get – performing at a retirement center for former entertainers. It is there that he meets his childhood idol, Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin.) Their relationship inspires Burt to rediscover the joy of magic and send him on a journey of self-discovery.
The film’s plot is predictable and the flow is reminiscent of “Talladega Nights” but fails to get off of the ground. It brings a few laughs but not enough to leave the audience amazed.
It is worth the watch, but not in theaters.